A campaign to help prevent vulnerable young people in particular from becoming radicalised and drawn into extremism has been launched by East Cambridgeshire District Council.
The 3R campaign stands for “Recognise, Report and Result” and gives partner agencies a simple message about how to support young people at risk of becoming involved in extremist activities.
Partner agencies include secondary schools, Scout and Guide groups, youth clubs, parish councils and other groups working with teenagers and young adults.
The focus is on preventing people from being radicalised before they become involved in any illegal acts. Whilst aimed at all age ranges, the campaign has a major focus on young people.
Neighbourhood Support Officer, Nick Ball, who helped launch the scheme, said: “The 3R campaign is not about catching terrorists, it is about identifying people who may be at risk of radicalisation, and supporting them to change direction in a way that will help them.
“The Council’s campaign will give secondary schools and other groups working with young people the tools to help them spot someone who may be heading into trouble.
“We owe our young people a duty of care to ensure they don’t throw away happy and fulfilling lives by becoming involved in criminal activities that can harm them and others.”
This campaign is in line with the Government’s Prevent strategy which aims to stop young people from joining extremist groups by confronting their opinions with alternative, moderate viewpoints. This work does not criminalise young people, but aims to support them.
Radicalisation happens when someone gets drawn into extremism. If someone decides that using fear, terror or violence is justified to achieve ideological, political or social change – this is violent extremism.
Jo Brooks, Director of Operations at ECDC, said: “This is not about singling out certain communities or one group, it is about tackling extremism in all its forms whether it is far right, Islamist, extremist animal rights or other groups who may pose a threat to public safety.
“Quite often it is a vulnerable or lonely teenager who gets hooked into this kind of behaviour online and that’s where community-based support can really make a difference before they get into something more serious.”
Young people who become radicalised do face serious risks to themselves as well as posing a threat to society. At least 70 British jihadis have been killed fighting for the Islamic State terror group. More than 200 have returned and many now face lengthy prison sentences for being involved in terrorist activities. Some have returned with lifechanging injuries.
Meanwhile in 2012 a right wing extremist was given a 21 year sentence for racially motivated mass murder. He is unlikely to ever be released and is expected to die in prison.
Cllr Lis Every, a member of the 3R campaign project board, said: “This campaign aims to provide resources for all those who work with young people and want to help prevent them from taking a wrong turn in their life. It has been created in consultation with Cambridgeshire Police and is supported by the Government. We are very pleased to be able to provide this information and training for our partners and the public.”
If anyone has concerns that they wish to share, they can call the Police on 101 (or 999 for an immediate risk). Alternatively you can contact the 3R team on RRR@eastcambs.gov.uk